FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2010 — Doug Peterson

THEME: CHIN! — or maybe CHON, as "CH-" goes "on" to the ends of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, etc.

A Doug Peterson Friday goes down in 4:07!? Am I dreaming? Is the snow covering my house, car, dogs, etc. magical? Magical speed-solving snow? (note to self: call cocaine people with new sales pitch idea) I was actually disappointed to have so little trouble with this one, as Doug Peterson is one of the best constructors around and his puzzles are almost always a joy to solve, even when they are Newsday Saturday Stumpers that take me the better part of an hour. This isn't the most interesting theme in the world, and the resulting theme answers are just OK, but I wish constructors would study Doug's grids to see the care that goes into them. This grid is absolutely devoid of made-up, iffy, "it's-*kind*-of-a-word" crap. Any grid with lots of three- and four-letter words is going to have boring stuff, and some repeaters (crosswordese) — that's OK. What's not OK is the stuff that makes you *wince*, esp. when said stuff is patently unnecessary. The cleanness of Doug's grids separates him from other constructors who just churn it out and coast on the (presumed) cuteness of their themes.

Today, everywhere you look, real words. Abbrevs. are few and solid. Ditto prefixes. Longish Downs are all at least interesting, and I really like HERCULEAN (11D: Requiring superhuman effort), WHITERICE (32D: Jambalaya basic), and PUBLICAN (38D: Tavern keeper). Also, RUB (46A: Meat seasoning mixture) / BURP (43D: Tupperware sound) intersection is cute in that it reminds me of burping a baby, and SCREW (48D: Thread site) / SHIRE (56A: Talia of "The Godfather") — or SCREW / LOEWE (62A: "Brigadoon" composer), depending on your temperament — has an enjoyable dynamic oomph.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Taking pictures of potatoes and pasta? (SHOOTING STARCH)
  • 30A: Trapdoor in an Old West saloon? (COWBOY HATCH)
  • 40A: Group of show-offs? (HOT DOG BUNCH)
  • 54A: Spiel from a maestro? (ORCHESTRA PITCH)

Crosswordese 101: ASAHI (2D: Leading Japanese brewery) — 60% vowels, short word ending in "I" — those two qualities make this a valuable (if not overwhelmingly common) crossword answer, one you are apt to see on mid-to-late-week puzzles. I was lucky today, as I had an ASAHI at a soba noodle joint in Manhattan less than a week ago, so it sprang straight to mind. Apparently both Matsui and Dice-K dig the taste — check 'em out, slugging and drinking, pitching and slugging and drinking and smiling...

What else?

  • 1A: Predatory group (PACK) — got it right off the bat, no crosses. I often have wolves on the brain.
  • 25A: DJIA part: Abbr. (AVG.) — dear god please never ever ever let "DJIA" appear in a puzzle — stands for Dow Jones Industrial AVG.
  • 37A: Lee who founded the Shakers (ANN) — yay, I remembered this time. Boo, I thought it had some weird spelling like "ANE."
  • 30D: Crunch's rank (CAP'N) — awesome clue that took me many passes to understand. Had the same issue (though less enjoyably) with SCREW (48D: Thread site).

See you Monday.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Predatory group (PACK); 5A: Grifter's ploy (SCAM); 9A: Jerk (SCHMO); 14A: Stadium near Citi Field (ASHE); 15A: Pear, for one (POME); 16A: From the other side (THEIR); 17A: Topical treatment (BALM); 18A: Bring down (RUIN); 19A: Has coming (EARNS); 20A: Taking pictures of potatoes and pasta? (SHOOTING STARCH); 23A: Has a connection with (TIES INTO); 24A: Diamond brothers' surname (ALOU); 25A: DJIA part: Abbr. (AVG.); 26A: PC key under Z (ALT); 27A: Circuit (LAP); 30A: Trapdoor in an Old West saloon? (COWBOY HATCH); 35A: "Baudolino" novelist (ECO); 36A: Massage target (ACHE); 37A: Lee who founded the Shakers (ANN); 38A: Ink holders (PADS); 39A: Sixers, on a scoreboard (PHI); 40A: Group of show-offs? (HOTDOG BUNCH); 44A: "Kidding!" ("NOT!"); 45A: Project's conclusion? (ILE); 46A: Meat seasoning mixture (RUB); 47A: Chiseled abbr. (ESTD.); 49A: Like radon (ODORLESS); 54A: Spiel from a maestro? (ORCHESTRAPITCH); 56A: Talia of "The Godfather" (SHIRE); 57A: Harrow rival (ETON); 58A: Sound after ah (CHOO); 59A: Less brusque (NICER); 60A: Kevin's "Tin Cup" co-star (RENE); 61A: In a bit, poetically (ANON); 62A: "Brigadoon" composer (LOEWE); 63A: Sibling, in dialect (BRER); 64A: Casual dissent (NOPE); 1D: Brewer Frederick (PABST); 2D: Leading Japanese brewery (ASAHI); 3D: Lover of Daphnis (CHLOE); 4D: Friend in old Westerns? (KEMOSABE); 5D: Elastic (SPRINGY); 6D: Matter (COUNT); 7D: Pl·cido's pal (AMIGO); 8D: Retail store department (MENS); 9D: Tiger's asset (STEALTH); 10D: "Cuchi-cuchi" entertainer (CHARO); 11D: Requiring superhuman effort (HERCULEAN); 12D: Ho Chi __ City (MINH); 13D: Hosp. areas (ORS); 21D: Record, in a way (TIVO); 22D: Powder source (TALC); 26D: "... __ additional cost to you!" (AT NO); 28D: Elec. designation (AC/DC); 29D: Ritzy (POSH); 30D: Crunch's rank (CAP'N); 31D: Cuatro doubled (OCHO); 32D: Jambalaya basic (WHITE RICE); 33D: Find repugnant (HATE); 34D: So-so center? (AND); 38D: Tavern keeper (PUBLICAN); 40D: "Howdy!" ("HI THERE!"); 41D: Shoppe modifier (OLDE); 42D: Pun, often (GROANER); 43D: Tupperware sound (BURP); 48D: Thread site (SCREW); 49D: Weasel relative (OTTER); 50D: Mindless worker (DRONE); 51D: Prefix with centric (ETHNO-); 52D: Exclusive story (SCOOP); 53D: Performed superbly (SHONE); 54D: Wheeling's river (OHIO); 55D: Balkan native (SERB); 56D: Show with a "Weekend Update" segment, briefly (SNL).


*David* said...

A smooth puzzle by DP, I had little problem with most of it. I got the theme immediately and it helped with the rest of the puzzle where potential problems could've been. The NE was my only real slow spot and once CHARO came to mind it was a done deal.

I also liked SPRINGY and now I know what a REPUBLICAN is, somone who goes back to owning taverns.

xyz said...

Lovely puzzle, agree Rex not a sniff of a clunker except poor RENE Russo whose parents did not know how to spell her name (My wife is ReneE), funny Renato and Renata the Italian equivalent I've never seen.

xyz said...

OOOPS, this one laptop enters too easily with its touch-pad, I need to remember not to enter the captcha until done!

I had a hitch or two with SPOOL/SCREW and premature ???SPICE/whiteRICE, and I could not seem to make COCKTAIL WAITRESS MAGNET fit into 9D. (wink)

My only small gripe is that "Spiel from a Maestro?" is not exactly equal to ORCHESTRAL PITCH - made more difficult with the SPICE/RICE SPOOL/SCREW subs, but still a stretch.

On the other hand the NE took seemingly 5 seconds to fill.Only SLO was SW.

Loads of fun, now to go struggle with today's NYT ...

Tinbeni said...

Best clue answer was 42d GROANER for pun often. DP does deliver them.
Though I got it, each of the themes (puns) got a groaner from me.
After the kidney stone episode Wed.into Thur. I wanted groans that weren't a pain.

Hey, there isn't a repeat answer from yesterday.
Rich Norris what's up?

Liked the PABST / ASAHI juxaposition.
OK, do two beers equal one Scotch?

Here's the RUB. I love spicy food. So when I think Jambalaya, WHITE RICE isn't what comes to mind.

@Radanman - ? Where do you have spice?

@Rex - I've noticed that with an excellent Friday puzzle you deliver a much better write-up. Great clips.

mac said...

Great, fun puzzle and wonderful write-up! I love snowdays. Just a little worried about getting to Naples, FL tomorrow morning.

Nice little Miss Idaho! I realize I had not made the connection to Cap'n Crunch, but figured a military rank would be right because I confused crunch with grunt. Lucky stab!

A PACK of coyotes just wandered through our yard, playing in the snow.

@Rex: was the soba place Ippudo? Now I'm craving it. Just took out my buckwheat noodles, have some veg. in the fridge, including cilantro, and shrimp in the freezer. Dinner!

xyz said...


Off -ICE, I tried (something)SPICE expecting as did you something more than white rICE to be the answer. Sorry for lack of clarity, was just showing my mis-steps.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain the answer(ESTD) to 47 Across- chiseled abbr.?

I.M. Pei said...

@Anon 8:21
ESTB = Established
Chiseled into the Cornerstone of a Building.

Who is I.M Pei? said...

What does the I.M. stand for Pei and no looking?

I.M.Pei said...

Ieoh Ming is the I.M.
Now you know why I use the initials.

lit.doc said...

I certainly have to agree with Rex re the quality of the puzzle’s craft. Just wish it’d been more fun overall. Not sure why it wasn’t. The only clue I’m vexed with is “From the other side” for THEIR—just seems weak, though not out of bounds.

All I got immediately in NW was CHLOE, a ghosted-in guess for Arthur Ashe Stadium, and disappointment that 1A wasn’t HMOS. So I went south to work my way back up. Had a nice WTF?-followed-by-laughter moment when I’d filled in SE as far as 54A _____ STRAP ITCH. Reading the clue cleared it right up.

Other fun(ny) moments as well. I’d always thought that KEMOSABE was the Comanche word for “honky”. And the clue for 9D is flat out wrong. If he were so STEALTHy, he wouldn’t have gotten caught. Full-frontal disclosure: my first guess for 9D was unprintable in the LAT, but at least it fit the clue perfectly.

I didn’t spot the +CH theme till I got HOT DOG BUNCH, as ORCHESTRA PITCH had passed the “wordplay of some sort” test.

C said...

Solid puzzle. My only off base area was the 'friend in old westerns' clue. I went with COMPADRE which gave me DOW at my cross check which then got me a bit off track. Short but fun detour, KEMOSABE quickly replaced COMPADRE and we were back on track.

CrazyCat said...

Really nice puzzle today. I tore through the upper half, thanks to Crazy Cat husband knowing ASAHI. Thought it was neat that PABST was right next door. Picked up the theme at SHOOTING STARCH - very cute. Got tricked by Thread site SCREW. That made me chuckle about an accidental pun the plumber made yesterday while he was fixing my sink. It was a GROANER. I'll spare you. Also tricky was Crunch's rank CAP'N. I was confusing a CRUNCH with a GRUNT. At first wanted Andouille for Jambaylaya basic. WHITE RICE finally filled itself in. New for me was PUBLICAN. Laughed at Tupperware sound BURP. That could be a result of all that beer in the NW. Mr. Peterson SHONE today. Thanks.
@Tinbeni - glad your KS episode has "passed."
@Rex Thanks for the write up. Liked the CAP'N Crunch clip. Binghamton was on the Today Show earlier. The snow looks wild.
@Mac - PACKs of coyotes roam our neighborhood too. They gobble up cats on a regular basis. ☹ Hope you make it safely to Naples. My brother has a place there. I'm planning a visit in the near future.

shrub5 said...

Loved the picture of the little girl holding the big potato.

Saw the HOTDOG BUNCH on TV -- the Olympic freestyle skiing (aerials) participants.

DJIA stumped me, too. Got the answer from crosses, then I finally figured out the clue.

Thought I went through every ingredient in jambalaya but forgot rice!! D'oh, what a SCHMO.

@lit.doc: LOL at -----STRAP ITCH... and Tiger's asset possibilities.

@mac: coyotes? yikes! Also wanted to thank you for sharing your ACPT experiences. Wish I could have been there.

@*David*: LOL at rePUBLICAN!!

@Doug P: Thanks for the fun Friday puzzle.

Van55 said...

I think of SAPPORO and KIRIN as the top Japanese beers. I think I have heard of ASAHI, but don't recall ever drinking one. Took me all the croses to get it.

Loved HERCULEAN, PUBLICAN and STEALTH (though some Tiger Woods assets came briefly to mind.)

Didn't care for HITHERE. And wondered what the heck crossword constructors ever did before Felipe ALOU made it to the major leagues.

chefbea said...

Fun easy puzzle today. Has snowed all day here.

Can't decide what to have for my birthday dinner tonight - hot dog or jambalaya? I know for sure I'll have a scotch...or two


I HATE when people (SCHMOS)in this blog impersonate famous people (I.M.P.)... it's tantamount to a SCAM.

This puzzle went from a Thursday on top, to a Saturday on the bottom, so I guess that makes it an AVG Friday puzzle.

I agree totally with Rex on his take regarding the construction of Doug's puzzles. I always like when constructors use what I call "expensive" fill around THEIR themes. Words like SPRINGY, KEMOSABE, STEALTH, HERCULEAN, WHITE RICE, HI THERE, GROANER, PUBLICAN, ASAHI, and CHLOE are not your run-of-the-mill theme crossers.

@David, I love your definition of a Republican... chortles here!

I was going to put up a vid clip of CHARO doing her little wiggle thing (Cuchi-cuchi), but I thought I had better not.

I had SIDEKICK long before it morphed into KEMOSABE.

And I always think of a SHMOO whenever I see the word SCHMO, but Shmoos are cute and Schmos are annoying.

Thought that "Chiseled" was clever for ESTD.

I always thought that the abbrev. for Captain was CAPT, and NOT CAPN.

We had Talia SHIRE just a few weeks ago, so that was nice to see again. Sometimes we curse the puzzle repeats and much used crosswordese, but actually I'm beginning to look at it like it's an old friend returning. Maybe you've noticed that I'm trying to be NICER (less brusque) in my commenting. I have come to appreciate all the work that it takes to construct an amusing puzzle... and it's the one area of the entertainment world that we still get for free. Thank you LAT, Rich, Doug, et al.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, might be a silly question but I don't see the connection from 16A "From the other side" to THEIR.

Thanks! :)

Zeke said...

@Anon 2:31 Think ours vs theirs, or on our side vs on their side.

gespenst said...

@John - normally it would be Capt, but check out a box of CAPN Crunch and you'll see :)

I found it funny that GROANER was in the puzzle as I worked it w/ my father in law (back from vacation, yay!) b/c he's the king of corny/punny :)

This was one of those puzzles, suitable for a Friday, where on first glance I've got barely anything filled in. But I just keep on plugging (along w/ father in law, being a Friday and all) and eventually we, um, chisel it all down and finish :) I liked it overall though it took me a while to 'get' the theme (even *after* having 3 of the four theme answers ... but I figured out the SHOOTING once I figured out the theme).

addie loggins said...

Very good, very clean puzzle -- also the first Doug Peterson puzzle I have solved since I met him last weekend, which really does make the solving more fun.

My problem is that the first theme answer I got was ORCHESTRAPITCH, and I thought that might be an actual thing, you know, like the note the violinist plays so everyone can tune up. So I didn't get that the CH was the theme until much later. Also I kept looking for where the letters CARBS would fit for the pasta/potato clue...never did find it.

I, too, assumed he was talking about Tiger Woods rather than a, you know, tiger. Got me again with that first word capital letter trick... (shakes fist) PETERSON!!!

also PADS: I had "pens" for the longest time, until I figured out ACDC

Fun way to spend the lunch break. Now, back to work....